Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And then I stopped for a moment to breathe

I really do have intentions to write more. Life just moves a bit too quickly these days. But then again, haven't I been saying that for years?

I'm finishing up my third month working in (more than) full time ministry. I say more than full time because between my three jobs, I am actually contracted to work a total of 49 hours a week. Here in Chile, the work week is 44 hours so I'm not that far off. But having three ministry jobs, in a foreign culture that doesn't worship time management like we do in the US, has been quite a challenge. I have to say that my bosses have all been very flexible with me, letting me more or less decide the when and where. And my office is literally a 30 second walk from my apartment building. And I have lots of resources to make things happen. And I work with incredible people who love Jesus.
But more than anything, the key to making this whole three crazy jobs fit into one schedule, is that I love my jobs. My jobs are literally a sweet combination of my deepest desires (to disciple women) and my gifts (administration and coordinating).

My "outdoor" office
One of the lessons I have learned in ministry is to be flexible. Time after time, in the gospels Jesus is on His way to do something, and someone comes and interrupts Him. Needy people tend to not care about others plans and schedules. And statements like "I am to save the sick, not the healthy" make it very clear that our ministries are all about needy people. So while I make plans and schedules, I have to be willing to put people before that. I have to be willing to sacrifice my perfect schedule to deal with a pastoral situation.

My "indoor" office
And there is more than enough of pastoral situations. I wonder if all my churches have been like this, but since I was just a participant, I didn't see it. A guy in my small group last week who is a newer christian and still has on his rose colored glasses, asked me if there was ever conflict in our church. Hahaha. I literally laughed. And then I controlled myself and calmly explained and yes there was conflict. Not more than normally expected when dealing with a community of sinners, but still, we are far from conflict-free.

Now, before I go getting a slew of comments about how I should still be responsible with my time, let me say that I tend to be very "gringa" with my time. After all, time is money, right? But not here in chilean culture. Latin cultures would probably say something like relationships are money, so putting your time restrictions on a person, would harm your relationship. Which is bad. So what do you in cross cultural pastoral ministry? You put love first. Sometimes for the greater good, you have to move on with the schedule and deal with a pastoral situation later. But more often than not, it means putting my own agenda aside and caring for those very ones that Jesus has placed in my life.

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